This nu-metalcore outfit are well-known for delivering high-energy tracks crossing the realms of grime, hip-hop, hardcore and alternative metal. Continuously striving to push the boundaries of the metalcore subgenre, Borders focus on developing their sound with each release and have absolutely no desire to fit neatly into one genre label. The result of this is incredible.
Listening to Borders is an immersive experience. It’s brutal, thought provoking and charismatic. The new album Bloom Season opens with Fade To Black, diving straight into their dynamic onslaught, trap cymbals, noisy guitar accents and alternating vocal styles unleash a thrilling array of textures and tones. Catchy chorus hooks are placed among the heavy incorporating the metalcore style in the track. Fade To Black also establishes the overarching themes of the album including both personal struggles and global concerns. There’s a relatability to current events in lyrics such as “Watch now while the world explodes”. It’s a solid opener that aptly introduces their distinctive edge. NWWM featuring Dropout Kings is a hard-hitting track; lyrically it delves into difficult subjects while musically it dives into an onset of explosive guitars and rhythmic trap. I Get High is deeply emotive, beginning with a twinkling piano melody and raw rapped lyrics. Gradually building up instrumental layers, the chorus erupts into a full-blown metal attack. Combining soaring cleans and guttural harsh enhances the exploration of dark and light and of different emotions.
Godless sees the second guest spot on Bloom Season with Elijah Witt of Cane Hill. Descending into the imposing gloom, Godless unleashes the remorseless heaviness through ludicrous breakdowns, guttural harsh and relentless aggression. There’s a shadowy nature to the track with an encompassing bleakness and an ominous air. The final lyric of the track ends on a haunting and poignant note: “I hope you know my faith is broken”. Bloom Season unleashes a ruthless assault of heavy riffs with an anthemic chorus carrying a thunderous power. The album goes out with a bang, and there’s an intense determination that permeates through the track and notably the layered vocals in the chorus produce a huge impact. Ending with an electronic outro, the eerie undertone of the release is reinforced.
Borders have created in Bloom Season an album of epic riffs and high energy but also sombre tones and foreboding elements. The quartet are clearly uncompromising in their sound, ensuring everything from composition to production yields an impressive sound. • HR
For fans of: Hacktivist, PENGSHUi, The Five Hundred
‘Bloom Season’ by Borders is released on 18th November on Arising Empire.
If the idea of a new band playing at Paris Fashion Week before even having a full release gets those cynicism detectors working up a storm, at least Deadletter sound the part for it. Theirs is post-punk of the more sartorial variety, with the strut and litheness of The Fall or Talking Heads to break away from the genre’s heavier, hoarier leaders. Though, to call them strictly ‘fashion-focused’ is underselling what they’re doing here, and how strong a debut Heat! is.
Of course, there’s really no escaping post-punk’s shadow that—like it or not—almost customarily engulfs any new band looking to break out, in one way or another. In Deadletter’s case, it’s a bit less rigid than others, coming in frontman Zac Lawrence with a typically authoritative drone as he rattles through imagery and dry sardonicism about the state of society. It’s rarely revolutionary, but it’s executed well, if nothing else. And as with plenty of post-punks highest fliers, you’ve got the soundbites as the keystone holding this together, primarily Weights’ snappy hook of “Life imitates art, they say / In which case, art must be utter dismay”.
But it’s the sound that quite clearly stands out most of all, and almost immediately at that. The rhythm section pulls most of the weight in roiling and present the bass and drums are at practically every turn, but Deadletter continue to drill down into post-punk composition where others would simply call it a day there. A song like Binge is almost unreasonably catchy and that’s mostly down its groove, but it’s also the instability around the edges that keeps it that way, the wonky, on-the-verge-of-collapsing tones that make Heat! such an ear-catching little listen. Poppy Richler’s spikes of saxophone do a lot in that regard to embolden the wildness kept restrained; meanwhile, the heaving drone that cycles through Weights achieves a similar effect (even if it might be extrapolated past its limits for Zeitgeist in the EP’s most obvious case of flab).
Factor in the knife-sharp guitars that balance indie-rock accessibility with a post-punk edge, and Deadletter certainly know what they’re doing in terms of this cooler, more metropolitan style of the genre, and how to make it almost consistently work. It’s simply fresher and cleaner overall, without alienating much of what’s gotten big around them (Sports Team fans, this is your new favourite band), though feeling enough like its own thing. The push behind them is looking fairly serious as it stands, so let’s see how far this can actually go; as for now, it does feel warranted. • LN
For fans of: The Fall, Sports Team, Talking Heads
‘Heat!’ by Deadletter is released on 18th November on SO Recordings.
A bit of an odd one, this, though perhaps it shouldn’t really be seen as such. After all, both members of Doodseskader have cut their teeth in the noisier, more avant-garde ends of heavier music (most notably Tim De Gieter as the current bassist of Amenra), and though this isn’t quite on that level, the same DNA is roughly there. Year One is still hulking and pitch-black, only this time, owing most of that to nu-metal or the same industrial lane of an artist like Ghostemane.
As such, Doodseskader’s angle is one of intense, often oppressive release, and with the selection of tools they have to convey it, they do a fine job, if one that’s not entirely brimming with intrigue. That’s primarily a result of how Doodseskader’s genre sources fuse together, in a slow, pounding approach where the objective is engulf and pummel. Perhaps the album becomes a little monotonous through that; seven tracks doesn’t seem a lot, but between a substantial length for each and moments of modulation that are few and far between, it adds up quickly.
That’s undoubtedly the point though, in how Doodseskader intentionally set forward a reverb-loudened bass tone as an easy imposing presence that quickly domineers so much of what’s here. The earlier Ghostemane comparison does feel apt in that regard (even outside of some brief hip-hop inklings like that start of 1745), in the subsuming walls of black noise that Doodseskader have the most control over when they follow the same cues like on Blood Feud. Aggression is where this album is strongest, and even though there’s still strength in the grunge-styled cleans, screaming bloody murder over production this receptive to it ultimately feels like the way to go.
Still, it’s not as if Doodseskader are wanting for similar effects elsewhere. There are moments that feel better realised, but on the whole, Year One is about as pure a statement of feral exertion as you’re likely to see in some time. That might be all it is, as the density on display typically won’t allow for much else, but it’s hard to deny that Doodseskader do what they set out to pretty well. It’s what you’d expect from a name that translates to ‘death squad’—all the head-caving brutality with no extraneous frills getting in the way. • LN
For fans of: Ghostemane, Show Me The Body, Bloodbather
‘Year One’ by Doodseskader is released on 18th November on Isolation Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall (LN) and Holly Royle (HR)